Installing Windows to an External USB Hard Drive Not Possible?

Posted on 2006-06-26
Last Modified: 2010-04-03
Hello, I have wanted to do this for a long time So i could activly take my hard drive to a friend to show him certain things and also activly use it as an operating system, At first I thought this would work no problem but then I saw a post elsewhere saying Windows do not allow this and never will, the only option is to install Linux to an External Drive, is this true?

Cant I install Windows to the external at all?
If i can only install Linux would i simply connect it to the PC and insert Linux CD and select the external HD for install and kaboom it will boot from the external?

Thanks ever so much
Question by:sthoward2k7
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LVL 39

Expert Comment

ID: 16987241
Yes, you can. But some requirements that your system must meet, the USB boot option in BIOS or Motherboard has this function enable!

LVL 88

Accepted Solution

rindi earned 63 total points
ID: 16987770
No, you can't install windows to an external USB drive. There just aren't any drivers that would work. It doesn't matter whether the USB is bootable or not.

Regarding linux, I believe that should work, but I haven't really tried it yet, and also that won't be as simple as to install from CD to the USB disk. You'll most likely have to rebuild your own kernel to get that working. Of course with linux you have the possibility to boot from a LiveCD via a USB CD Drive. That does work and is as simple as popping a knoppix CD into a Bootable USB CD Drive...
LVL 41

Assisted Solution

graye earned 62 total points
ID: 16989319
rindi is absolutely correct...  there is currently no working solution for installing/booting Windows from an external drive.

Just a note... external SATA drives do not appear as "external" to Windows.   So that would work.
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LVL 39

Expert Comment

ID: 16989455

Author Comment

ID: 16991734
Thanks for your input, So a SATA external USB drive would boot windows fine and run it fine, also I could install multi boot onto it so I could have windows XP on main machine, then windows xp on external and linux on external?

Is this the type of drive you mean?

I am asking because I said external HD which means i could of had a SATA, so Im making sure which one to get here. If this is not the correct one could you point me in the direction of one

Thanks very much
LVL 88

Expert Comment

ID: 16991882
No, not a sata external usb drive, but an external sata drive. Many sata controllers also have a direct sata output from the PC, so you can connect the disk directly and not have usb in between.
LVL 41

Expert Comment

ID: 16991935
No, that's not really an external SATA drive...

You need an external drive with a Serial ATA connector on it (it might also have USB or Firewire, but that's not relevant).  You can buy just an enclosure and use an existing drive you might have laying around.  When purchasing a drive enclosure, don't get confused by the "internal" interface for the drive (typically parallel ATA) and the "external" interfaces (typically USB and Firewire).  Enclosures with an external SATA interface are just now becoming mainstream.

That way you could plug it into any available USB port, Firewire port, or SATA port.   You might have to purchase a PCI card with an external SATA connector (only the newer motherboards have external SATA).


Author Comment

ID: 16992030
a device like this

Then from this do I buy a normal SATA drive with an enclosure? and how would it be stable in terms of physicaly if its just hanging from the back of the tower?

Thanks again

If you mcould show me the products I need, I would be so greatful


Author Comment

ID: 16992108


SATA CARD - Minus the hard drive of course


I forgot its connected via the SATA cable, hence no need to prop it up with a book or something :), What about power to power the drive?

This shouldnt take too long now, I just need to make sure I buy the correct things

Thanks AGAIN

LVL 41

Expert Comment

ID: 16993229
Yep, those look good...

Just remember just because it's has a SATA connector on the OUTSIDE of the case, doesn't mean that drive INSIDE the case is an SATA drive.

I have several "Venus" enclosures from  that have 3 external connectors (USB, Firewire, and SATA), and the drive inside is a plain-ole parallel ATA drive.

Author Comment

ID: 16993240
Ill buy the SATA drive seperatly, the HDD Enclosure is empty at first, Or do you mean something else?

Author Comment

ID: 16993425
I guess All i need to buy is the SATA hard drive, the Ice Box Enclosure and the SATA External card which costs £29 when you buy it on its own :O...

The Ice Box comes with all the SATA connectors which is nice, So to the computer this will simply look like an internal Hard Drive and will boot and run windows (multiboot linux also) perfectly fine?

I will reward points after this has been confirmed

Thanks Again guys
Much Appreciated

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